It’s no secret that Alfonso Soriano was poorly treated by some Chicago Cubs fans from around 2009 through 2011. It’s a shame that it took a resurgent 2012 season on the field to remind fans that Soriano – however large the contract he was offered and accepted – has always been a hard worker, a great teammate, and often an excellent baseball player.
But was Soriano ill-treated not only by some fans during that era, but also by the Cubs front office and managerial staff?
Speaking about his turnaround in 2012, and how much better he’s feeling going into the 2013 season, Soriano complimented the current administration by way of contrast with the former.
“More important is this organization changed things around, and now I feel like part of the team, part of the organization,” Soriano told Gordon Wittenmyer of his news bosses, including Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Dale Sveum. “Those guys talked to me, and they were honest with me.
“The last few years, nobody talked to me, and they [treated me] like I’m the negative thing on the team,” Soriano continued, speaking about the pre-Epstein/Hoyer/Sveum era. “When we won, it was fine. But when we lost, everybody pointed at me like it was my responsibility that we lost …. Now if we lost, we lost like a team; if we won, we won like a team.”
It’s a fairly strong indictment of the lack of cohesiveness in the organization during those years, given that Soriano is roundly considered one of the best clubhouse guys in baseball.
Now we’re left to wonder about the chicken and the egg: is Soriano’s positive attitude about the new staff a byproduct of his successful 2012 season, or did he break back out in 2012 because he finally felt comfortable and wanted?
The irony, of course, is that this administration has been very open and honest with Soriano about the possibility of a future trade. Fortunately, it seems Soriano does not take that as an indication that he’s not wanted. Instead, it’s simply a recognition of Soriano’s value, which might be higher on another team right now than it is on the Cubs. Instead of feeling like the Cubs just want to get rid of him, Soriano might now understand that the Cubs simply need to be realistic about the near-term future, and need to get value for Soriano right now, if that’s possible.
Of course, Soriano and this front office are very much on the same page when it comes to the ideal outcome: he has another great year, the Cubs surprise everyone, and there’s no reason to trade him midseason, because the Cubs are fighting for a playoff spot.